For the first time ever in this list, there are two $1,000 (about R14,000) smartphones to choose from. 

And because of that price tag, neither of them have the top spot. You just don't need to spend that amount of money to get a great smartphone experience. 

Plus, one of those phones are primarily designed for power users rather than the regular smartphone user, as it has features that not everyone may appreciate. Check out our list of the top 20 smartphones you can buy:

20. BlackBerry Key2

The BlackBerry Key2 is arguably the most unique smartphone on this list because of its physical keyboard. The trade-off here is you sacrifice some screen space to make way for the keyboard. That might appeal to some BlackBerry enthusiasts, but not so much to regular smartphone users. 

Price: $650 (R9,300)

Read the BlackBerry Key2 review »

19. Motorola Moto Z3

On it's own, the Moto Z3 is a fairly basic smartphone that boasts a nice, slim design. You can attach some of Motorola's "Moto Mods" to give it some extra features that you wouldn't find on any other smartphone, like a projector, an extra loud speaker, or a larger battery pack. The flagship Moto Mod is a 5G module that will let the Moto Z3 connect to Verizon's 5G network, which should offer blisteringly fast data speeds. The only problem is that Verizon's 5G network will be limited to a few cities, including Los Angeles, Houston, Sacramento, and a city that has yet to be announced, when the 5G Moto Mod is released in early 2019.

Price: $480 (R6,900)

 

18. Moto G6 Plus

Every time I check out a new Moto G smartphone, I question why I pay so much for the high-end flagships. There was no exception when I checked out the Moto G6. When it boils down to it, Motorola's "G" series smartphones do everything I need a smartphone to do for a fraction of the price I usually pay for a new smartphone.

Price: $250 (about R3,600)

17. Apple iPhone SE/6S/6S Plus

I grouped all these together because they are all two years old, have similar specs, and are still available from Apple. They're also still amazing smartphones.

Last fall, Apple released iOS 11, the latest version of its mobile operating system, and my iPhone 6S Plus still runs great with it.

The SE, 6S, and 6S Plus all feature great cameras and Apple's Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which allows you to quickly unlock your phone. Another bonus: These are the last iPhones that still have headphone jacks.

iPhone SE price: $350 (about 5,000) 

iPhone 6S price: $450 (R6,500)

iPhone 6S Plus price: $550 (just over R7,900)

Read the iPhone SE review »

Read the iPhone 6S review »

16. Apple iPhone 7 Plus

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are now more than a year old, but for $550 and $670, respectively, they're still worthy of your attention.

Apple phones generally offer better apps and a better owner experience than their Android rivals, and the iPhone 7 is no different. The support you get from Apple if something goes wrong is superior to what you get from Android device makers. And unlike on most Android phones, with iPhones you can always get the latest software updates straight from Apple as soon as it releases them.

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus offer some compelling features, including water-resistant cases, great cameras that perform well in low light, and a powerful processor. The phones also work well with other Apple products, including the company's wireless AirPods headphones.

The iPhone 7 Plus' dual-lens camera system is its distinguishing feature. It allows you to take pictures with a professional-looking "bokeh" effect, which blurs the background behind your subject. Additionally, the system allows you to zoom in on your subjects; its second camera offers a 2x optical zoom. Unlike the digital zoom feature found in other cameras, an optical zoom allows you to enlarge an image of your subject without sacrificing picture quality.

iPhone 7 price: $550 (about R7,900)

iPhone 7 Plus price: $670 (R9,600)

Check out the iPhone 7 review »

15. Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus.


The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are "old" phones now that the S9 is released, but Samsung is still selling them for a nice little discount. They're great phones, but despite the discount, I'd still go for the Galaxy S9 or S9 Plus. The S9 has much better facial/iris recognition, and the fingerprint scanner under the camera is much easier to reach.

Galaxy S8 price: $500 (R7,100)

Galaxy S8 Plus price: $590 (R8,400)

Read the Samsung Galaxy S8 review »

14. Razer Phone


The Phone is marketed as a "gaming" phone, mostly because of its unique display. The Phone can refresh its screen 120 times a second; most phones, by comparison only refresh their screens 60 times a second. The Phone's faster refresh rate allows it to offer super smooth gameplay.

But the Phone doesn't just use the feature to make games look good. The refresh rate also affects the way it displays apps and its Android interface. It works beautifully; everything you do on the phone is ultra smooth in a way never seen before on a smartphone. In fact, Razer may have set the standard for how all phone displays should work — not just those on gaming devices.

But there's more to the Phone than just its screen. It's also got an eye-catching industrial design that stands out when compared with the sleek and svelte designs of most other Android phones. The large borders above and below the Phone's screen may look out of step with the borderless designs of other recent phones. But hiding beneath those borders are the loudest and best speakers we've heard on any smartphone.

Price: $680 (R9,700)

Check out the Razer Phone review »

13. HTC U12+

The HTC U12+ sports a unique design for those who are tired of more traditional smartphone color options. It comes in three glossy colours that can shift to a different colour when you hold it in a certain light. 

With a dual-camera system on the front and back, the HTC U12+ is a high-end performer, and it features HTC's signature squeezable edges that can be set to do different things, like bring up apps or smart assistants like Google Assistant and even Amazon's Alexa.  Just note that it doesn't work on Verizon's network. 

Price: $800 (R11,500)

12. Huawei Mate 10 Pro

The Mate 10 Pro is the most enticing one to date that the Chinese company has offered in the US market. It features a nice, if somewhat generic, design; water resistance; a large, 4,000mAh battery; and a dual-lens camera system.

It also runs on a Kirin 970 processor that comes with something called a neural-network processing unit, or NPU. The NPU lets the phone adapt and respond to how you use it. It can adjust the device's power consumption to offer both the best performance and efficiency. Combined with the Mate 10 Pro's jumbo-sized battery, the NPU allows the device to have insane battery life.

Price: $540 (R7,700)

11. LG G7

The LG G7 is a great smartphone that should certainly have a place on your short list. It features everything you could possibly want in a smartphone, including performance, a great camera, and other features like wireless charging and water resistance.

It even has a headphone jack and one of the loudest speakers I've heard on a smartphone. As an LG phone, it also comes with a high quality audio amplifier for the best quality music through headphones compared to most other smartphones.

The LG G7 is a great smartphone that should certainly have a place on your short list. It features everything you could possibly want in a smartphone, including performance, a great camera, and other features like wireless charging and water resistance. 

It even has a headphone jack and one of the loudest speakers I've heard on a smartphone. As an LG phone, it also comes with a high quality audio amplifier for the best quality music through headphones compared to most other smartphones. 

Price: $750 (R10,500)

10. Essential Phone

The Essential Phone is a gorgeous device, and it's been moved up to a better spot on the list for its price tag, design, and the fact that it got the latest Android 9 Pie update at the same time as Google's Pixel phones.

It has a nearly edge-to-edge display and a case made of ultrapremium materials — ceramic on the back and titanium on the sides. It also runs a nearly stock version of Android, which I prefer over the heavily modified versions that Samsung and LG phones tend to use.

Overall, the Phone is a great first effort from Essential. It's speedy and takes great photos. It also has two magnetic pins on its back that serve as a connection point for peripherals, including a 360-degree camera and a wireless-charging dock.  Essential recently dropped the price of the Phone to $500 from $700, and its price can periodically drop even further at times. That's a great deal for a great phone.

Price: $344 (R4,900)

Read the Essential Phone review »

9. Apple iPhone 8

The iPhone 8 comes with a refined glass-and-metal case, a superb camera, and strong performance. With it, Apple is finally supporting both wireless and fast charging — features that Android phones have long offered but had been missing from previous iPhones.

Price: $700 (R10,000)

Check out the iPhone 8 review »

8. Google Pixel 2

The Pixel 2 might not be the most beautiful Android phone you can buy, but it has a secret weapon that vaults it above most of the competition — it runs the latest and purest version of the operating system at all times. Because it's unadulterated, that version looks and runs better than any of the tweaked takes on Android other phone makers include with their devices.

Better yet, because the Pixel 2's Android is unmodified, you'll be able to install the latest updates as soon as Google rolls them out. That's not something you can usually do with other Android phones. But it's important and, hey, who doesn't want to get the latest version of Android as soon as it's available?

But the Pixel 2 has other features that help put it ahead of other Android devices, including an amazing camera, great performance, and outstanding battery life. And unlike its predecessor, the original Pixel, the Pixel 2 is water-resistant. All told, it's like a smarter —if less attractive — Galaxy phone.

Price: $650 (R9,300)

Check out the Pixel 2 review »

7. Samsung Galaxy S9

The Galaxy S9 is a superb smartphone with almost every feature under the sun. It sports the latest specs, best display, one of the best cameras you can get on a smartphone, a gorgeous design, wireless charging, water resistance, and several other features that make the Galaxy S9 a fool-proof buy. 

So why doesn't it get the top spot on the list? Other smartphones, including its bigger sibling the Galaxy S9 Plus, come with dual-camera systems. On top of that, Samsung's own version of Android isn't for everyone.

Price: $620 (R8,900)

Check out the Galaxy S9 review »

6. Apple iPhone X

The iPhone X is Apple's biggest leap in design and features in years, but it's held back by a massive $1,000 price tag, questionable Face ID performance for unlocking, and the lack of a backup fingerprint scanner.

Face ID might actually work perfectly well for some people, but a minimum of $1,000 for this smartphone doesn't work well for many others. It's just an iPhone with a fancy design and doesn't offer much more than the less expensive iPhone 8 Plus.

Still, it gets a decently high spot on the list for running iOS and being part of Apple's ecosystem, and for its design, screen, and camera. 

Price: $1,000 (R14,300)

Check out the iPhone X review »

5. Google Pixel 2 XL

The Pixel 2 XL has nearly the same components and features that make the Pixel 2 great, but it comes in a bigger package with a larger display and a fresher-looking design. The Pixel 2 XL isn't the best-looking Android phone, but with the narrow borders around its screen, it looks sleeker and more refined than its smaller sibling or its predecessors from last year.

And the unadulterated Android experience it offers is unbeatable.

Users and reviewers initially reported encountering several problems with the Pixel 2 XL, mostly with its screen. Some reported the colors it displayed weren't as vibrant as those on other top Android phones. Google later issued an update that made colors appear more vibrant.

Price: $850 (R8,900)

Check out the Pixel 2 XL review »

4. Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Starting at $800, the iPhone 8 Plus is essentially the same smartphone as the $1,000 iPhone X. You get the same dual-lens camera and performance. You're only missing out on Face ID, a new design, and the iPhone X's beautiful OLED display. But that still doesn't warrant the iPhone X's price tag. Android devices have had OLED displays for years without going into quadruple digits for the price.

The iPhone 8 Plus has a fingerprint scanner instead of the iPhone X's Face ID, and it's a better phone for it. You don't get the Animoji feature that only works with Face ID, but Animoji aren't exactly an amazing reason to go for the iPhone X over the iPhone 8 Plus.

Price: $800 (R11,500)

Check out the iPhone 8 review »

3. Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The Galaxy Note 9 is the best Android smartphone that Samsung has released. It has a large 6.4 inch display that looks fantastic with Samsung's technology. And combined with its high-powered specs, it's a veritable productivity and multitasking machine. I've also recently come to appreciate the S Pen stylus for taking notes at the spur of a thought and for keeping organized, and it gives me more precision for tasks that I'd usually reserve for a computer.

At $1,000, it's priced for enthusiasts and power users rather than the casual smartphone user. But if you're comparing the Galaxy Note 9 to another $1,000 smartphone — the iPhone X — it's a much better smartphone.

Price: $1,000 (R14,300)

2. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

The Galaxy S9 Plus is largely just a bigger version of the regular Galaxy S9, but it has a dual-lens camera system where the secondary lens serves as a 2x optical zoom lens. The Plus model also comes with more RAM than the regular S9, which helps with overall performance speed.

It's my top smartphone pick because it's a clear example that you don't need to spend $1,000 - the price of an iPhone X - to get a top, premium, full-fat smartphone experience. The Galaxy S9 Plus checks off all the boxes and I'd easily recommend it to anyone looking for a new smartphone.

Price: $740 (R10,600)

Check out the Galaxy S9 review »

1. OnePlus 6

The OnePlus 6 doesn't have wireless charging, an official water resistance rating, the sharpest screen, or the absolute best camera on a smartphone. But for what it offers at its $530 price tag, the OnePlus 6 is the best smartphone value you can buy at the moment. I'd recommend the OnePlus 6 to anyone looking for a new smartphone.

It's the fastest performer of any Android smartphone, it has a beautiful design, it has a great camera, and the company's Dash Charger is the fastest and best charger you can find on any smartphone.

The OnePlus 6 also runs a near-stock version of Android with the company's Oxygen OS. I'll always prefer the clean, stock look of Android rather than the Android operating system you'll see on phones from Samsung, HTC, or LG. 

The biggest caveat is that it doesn't support Verizon and Sprint.

Price: $530-570 (R7,600 to R8,100)

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